Good Things Jar

Tara with the TARDIS blanket and hot cocoa, and the good things jar.
Tara with the TARDIS blanket and hot cocoa, and the good things jar.

A year ago I read a blog post from a friend who had a “good things jar.” (A quick browser search shows that many bloggers have touched this topic before my friend and I.) All year long, when there were notable events or thoughts or accomplishments, it was written onto a piece of paper and put into the jar. The post I read was about the day my friend pulled all those notes out of the jar and read over them.

Our jar
Our jar

I was so inspired by the idea, I put together my own good things jar!

I chose one of the large, old-fashioned jars my mother had given me. She was in love with anything old, and particularly loved the old canning jars with glass tops instead of the new metal ones we use today. This jar remains fully functional, with the metal ring still able to tightly hold the glass top. If I were to replace the hardened seal with a new rubber seal, it might be good as new.

Tara chose a piece of artwork, a block print made in art class, to decorate the jar. We screwed on the metal ring lid and then rested the glass piece on top. That way, any time a good thing needed to be added, it was easy-peasy to lift the glass, drop in the note, and put the glass disc back into place. Tara cut up a small pile of scrap paper and put the blanks on the shelf next to the jar. (I have to make things easy for myself – good intentions are not enough to keep me motivated for a whole year!)

Our pile of good things
Our pile of good things

Tara and I both added to it all year long. Though we never discussed this in advance, an unspoken agreement grew that we never told each other what we had included, and we never looked into the jar during the year. On New Year’s Day 2015, we pulled out the jar and sat on the floor in the living room, and took turns removing the pieces of paper, one by one. We read the papers we selected out loud to each other, even if the other person had written the note, and then spent a moment remembering the event that caused us to write what we did. Sometimes we didn’t remember. Sometimes we disagreed today (with 20/20 hindsight) that the thing we wrote was a good thing after all.

"My ballet has drastically improved. I am skilled and beautiful."
“My ballet has drastically improved. I am skilled and beautiful.”

Some of Tara’s:

  1. (written on part of a score sheet) “games with Mom, particularly Scrabble”
  2. “living in an open-minded home” & “welcoming online communities”
  3. “Daddy got a house”
  4. “The kind of lonely where you know exactly when you’ll feel better.”
  5. “the ability to forgive and be forgiven”
  6. “henna”
  7. “Dungeons & Dragons” (new group meets at our house Sunday evenings)
"I'm glad we have health insurance and that Tara is healthy." We have only had health insurance for a couple of years - previously couldn't afford it. This note after talking with a pediatric cardiologist about the state of Tara's heart. Yikes.
“I’m glad we have health insurance and that Tara is healthy.” We have only had health insurance for a couple of years – previously couldn’t afford it. This note after talking with a pediatric cardiologist about the state of Tara’s heart. Yikes.

Some of mine:

  1. “I had a wonderful conversation with Javie this week.” My sort of father-in-law, my ex-boyfriend’s dad, was in the hospital. We visited for a long time, I went on a walk in the halls of the hospital with him, he told me Navy stories, we laughed and cried, and he told me he wasn’t scared. He died two days later.
  2. “identifying birds in my back yard” I’ve become a total bird geek.
  3. “Thanksgiving. I am grateful that Dennis is the father of my child. I am grateful that we shared this holiday together.” Dennis could not afford a hotel room, so he stayed with me.
  4. “Tara and I trust each other.” & “Tara and I have a great relationship.”
  5. “Arno (ex-boyfriend) and I are perfect when we’re not afraid.” Aren’t we all?
  6. “The AC is not cranked at my workplace anymore!” Now that I work at home, climate control is all mine.
  7. “Every time something expensive happens, I can afford it. (Malware on computer.)” Yeah, I’m still recovering from the trauma of financial ruin in 2007-2009. Makes me grateful every time I have the money I need. As it should be.

We both wrote about how much we love the cat, ha ha! I wrote multiple times about daffodils and my ability to recover from setbacks. Tara wrote multiple times about having a best friend, and about macaroni and cheese.

Powell's is a local famous bookstore. If you have ever been there, you will agree.
Powell’s is a local bookstore. If you’ve been there, you’ll agree it’s a good thing.
"the ability to forgive and be forgiven"
“the ability to forgive and be forgiven”

In the beginning, I thought it would be a nudge to help us remember to think of the good things in our lives, day to day. And I was right. Every time I’m in the kitchen and see the good things jar, I ask myself, “Is something so good right now I need to record it?” Now that we’ve gone through the whole process, I see that there is also value in looking back and reevaluating each thing with a different perspective. I also got to know more about the secret life inside my child’s head, and I am more in love with Tara than ever before.

Obviously, the jar is already back in its place, waiting for new slips of paper in 2015.

33 thoughts on “Good Things Jar

  1. Here I am at last! I have seen your name in the comments of so many of my favourite blogs I am surprised it has taken me so long!

    This is a lovely post – I have just made my first arty ‘Jar of Joys’ though I like your name better. These things have been around forever it seems, but as this was an exercise in the art course I am taking this year I decided to actually make it and use it. Mostly I do my gratitude list in my head each morning, but having the chance to look back to see what I took the time to write down may be intriguing!

    1. I can totally relate to being surprised, because likewise it took me so long to follow your blog too, after reading your comments for so long. Well here we are at last! Welcome, friend.

      It’s great to hear you’ve decided to actually use the jar. Good on ya! I think it will be revealing and fun, no matter how it goes. I’m impressed that you do a gratitude list every morning anyway – what a positive activity.

      Alright, here’s to a future with more Contented Crafter in it. 😉

  2. Wonderful idea. Sometimes when life is challenging (grin), I make a mental note of the good things. It always helps. And yes, Powell’s is definitely a good thing, one of my all time favorite book stores. –Curt

  3. what a cool idea! I’m gonna start that! Started a diary this year. And it’s been quite a challenge just to write something every day. This sounds more like a fun thing!

    1. Hi Auntie! I’m glad the post inspired you. The diary is a good exercise too – kind of spiritual in the way it makes you stop and think about your day, no matter how much or how little happened. That would be a good activity for me, and it might slow me down a little, which I need. I already know that I would not do it, so kudos to you for sticking with it. The blog is my next best thing.

  4. I’m sitting in my bed with a cuppa, listening to the morning rain and ever so grateful that it waited until all the moving and unpacking was done. How could the sky know we needed a short break? That’s what I write in my gratitude journal for today. I put one line or two everyday with the date. It sits on my headboard. I started that journal in 2012! Lots of room left and yes, going back over what we are grateful for helps keep things in perspective.

    I love your jar (antiques are wonderful) and your ability to rebound. That’s what life is about. Getting back up when you feel you can’t.

    Your relationship with your daughter is wonderful. I have the same kind with both of my grown children. I value them more than any thing. My son’s ex-wife flew up here to help him with his unpacking and they are in the same bed as I have no other. They are good friends and are quite adult about things. I think our society places too many restrictions on how we should do things.

    As for Powell’s, we were there yesterday to show it off to my ex- DIL. They both came out with books. I showed some restraint this time. I have 7 bookshelves full and one more to go. I need time to read before I buy more but sitting in the cafe watching people in Portland was just lovely.

    I’ve found the more I’m grateful, the more I have to be grateful for. 🙂 Bet next year will be even better for you.

    1. Lying in peace and listening to the rain sounds purely blissful. When I was a teenager, my bedroom was an attic room under a metal roof. I loved being able to hear the rain on the roof. Gratitude journal! That’s a great idea, especially when you keep it next to your bed. I would have to do the same thing. Like I said in the post, I have to make things easy for myself or I won’t do it. It’s no problem having a quirky (or lazy) personality like mine, just find ways to work around it, ha ha!

      Thank you for picking up on the “bouncing back” part. It’s one of my best qualities, I think, and must be yours as well, if you so quickly noticed that comment and could commiserate. Everyone’s life is hard. That’s practically part of the definition of being alive. What sets us apart is how we react and deal with the problems.

      Tara and I could easily go overboard in Powell’s, so I congratulate you on your restraint. That is tough. I have never sat at the cafe though. I think it would be fun, since one window faces Burnside, right? Lots of good people-watching there.

      My 2015 is already starting off well, since I’ve added more blogger friends to it. I look forward to learning more about you, and meeting for coffee soon.

      1. Yes, the cafe faces Burnside. My son spent 2 hours in there with his ex. I don’t enjoy spending that much time standing and looking at what I don’t want to buy so a tea and sweet treat made the time fly. Life will settle down soon, I hope. Yes, bouncing back is what I do well.

  5. Crystal, I’m so glad you shared your good things jar with us. Not only did you and Tara keep it up all year long, but you started a special tradition by sitting down and reading the slips of paper to each other. How lovely this is!!

  6. This is a great idea. I’m glad it worked out so well for you. My son might have done this with me but he’s away from home now. My daughter is almost a teenager and is practicing her uncommunicative phase (did Tara have one of those?) at the moment. There is no way that she would do a good things jar with me yet. Maybe in a few years. I hope I don’t forget because it sounds wonderful.

    1. Sarah I have been really lucky during Tara’s teenage years. We had such a difficult baby/toddlerhood, that I like to joke that I “did my time” in the early years, and now it’s payback. Tara does tend to clam up when anything important is going on, but with steady nudges, I can usually get a few words out. I was not counting on Tara’s participation, but secretly excited when it turned out to be a joint project. 🙂

      1. I thought I’d replied to this ages ago but I guess I forgot to hit the send button or something. Sorry. Anyway, all I said was something like “All of the work (i.e. love) you put in in the early years is now paying off. Tara knows she can trust you and that is HUGE.”

  7. Very good!!!!! I had nevar thouhgt about doing this, so, from time to time you and Tara can open the jar and remember the good ans not so good things happened in your lives. Regards,

  8. Yay good things jar! 😀

    Also, I see Tara has the same blanket I do. Isn’t it AMAZING? So fuzzy and warm. Definitely a security blanket for me now. (My in-laws gave it to me for xmas.)

    I’m glad my post inspired you so much and I loved reading about your good things jar and your reflections on what was put into it during the year. Here’s to another year with a full jar and lots of love. 🙂

    (PS: I did move my blog, so the more current address for the post is this: http://blog.katjevanloon.com/2014/01/03/the-good-things-jar-emptying-reading-saving-starting-anew/ No rush; I haven’t yet taken down the old blog. But I probably will someday, so I figured I’d give you a heads up. :))

    1. The link is fixed! Thanks for pointing that out. Very cool that you and T share the same blanket. Tara also received it as a Christmas gift, two years ago, and it instantly became #1 favourite blanket. It pretty much lives on the the living room couch, though I am pretty sure I put it back on Tara’s bed nearly every morning.

  9. This is such a great find on your part and then, how you handled it, involving family is so inspirational! I have posted a few choices of others who have projects, mostly to help others find ways to write and continue to acknowledge all the goodness found in their lives. I loved this post, how you shared your choices and your daughter’s, too. The artistry in the block print was noticed by my interest in art, too. Smiles!

    1. Isn’t that elephant wonderful? It was Tara’s first attempt at an elephant. The idea was just to try to come up with something totally new because art class was getting boring. We have a stack of the prints now, in different colours and black and white. This was my fave of them all. It’s awesome that you noticed. I really love that block print too.

      You know, one of the most valuable things that came of this was seeing the strength and positivity in my child. “I am skilled and beautiful” – can you just imagine how that warms my heart? ❤

  10. I will share this with my wife and friends. This is awesomely brilliant idea. It is so needed today to hold on to the good qualitative moments in our fast passing quantitative unfolding of events. We easily forgot such moments. This will keep reminding us that we have and are living in the moments and not simply through them. Thank you Crystal for sharing such kairos-moments in your daily kronos-moments. You rock.

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